By Caitlyn Collins | July 20, 2012
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Matthew Modine, Morgan Freeman
The Batman of my youth was Michael Keaton. My brother and I watched those films countless times. As an adult, however, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is by far the best of the comic book adaptations. The cast is incredible, and with each film, Nolan has reminded viewers that Batman is first and foremost a man.
The Dark Knight Rises begins eight years after the ending of The Dark Knight with a fancy party at the Wayne mansion attended by Gotham’s finest. Referencing the end of The Dark Knight, Police Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) gives a speech lamenting the death of Harvey Dent whose name has become synonymous with tough crime fighting measures in Gotham. Gordon doesn’t feel Gotham is ready to learn the truth about Dent’s two faces quite yet. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been in a seemingly self-imposed exile within the east wing of his mansion. His butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), takes up food on a regular basis, encouraging him to get out, but Wayne prefers to remain out of the spotlight. Batman’s image went from hero to foe with the death of Dent, and Wayne is still mourning the death of his love, Rachel.
Wayne begins to come out of hiding when a female thief piques his interest. Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), better known as Catwoman, is a petty criminal looking for a way out. She negotiates with the henchman of Bane (Tom Hardy), the masked villain with aims of taking over Gotham, but nefarious types usually don’t hold up their end of the bargain. Luckily, she’s smart enough to bring along insurance. Selina Kyle isn’t the only woman to catch Wayne’s attention. Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) has been trying to meet with Bruce for months to discuss clean energy technology.
Meanwhile, Gordon suspects grave trouble for Gotham but is written off by Deputy Commissioner Foley (Matthew Modine). John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young police officer who believes in Gordon as well as Batman, having had an encounter with him as a child. Blake’s youthful exuberance is precisely the jolt needed to bring Batman out of the cave.
The Dark Knight Rises introduces many new characters who are all wonderfully cast. In fact, I think this may be the best comic book film line-up to date; each actor/actress delivers a strong, believable performance. Most importantly, each is subject to the attributes of mere mortals rather than the superhuman powers of many comic book heroes and villains. This film, the final of Nolan’s trilogy, really looks at Bruce Wayne/Batman as a mortal hero. Like all good heroes, he must endure trials and tribulations, the greatest of which are his internal struggles. He must find his will to live in order to save Gotham. Will he overcome his own fears and despair?
Full of twists and turns, The Dark Knight Rises is by far the best Batman film I’ve ever seen. I really cannot think of a better cast. The dialogue, while peppered with one-line quips common in comic book based films, is not so banal as to bore. This film is plenty violent but without all the blood and gore, something I greatly appreciate. The story is gripping, taking both Batman and the viewer to the brink. With a running time just shy of three hours, I was utterly captivated the entire time. The film has multiple endings which left me with more questions than answers. What are they? You’ll just have to go see it for yourself, but I’m sure that was already the plan.